January 23, 2015 / 7:44 PM / 3 years ago

EU suspends some aid to Guyana over parliament suspension

GEORGETOWN (Reuters) - The European Union on Friday suspended some budget assistance to Guyana on the grounds that President Donald Ramotar’s 2014 suspension of parliament has left the nation without adequate supervision of state spending.

Guyana President Donald Rabindranauth Ramotar poses for a picture in Georgetown November 15, 2014. REUTERS/Girish Gupta

Ramotar, 64, in November invoked a rare constitutional procedure known as “proroguing” parliament, leaving it suspended but not dissolved and letting him avoid a no-confidence vote.

The move was heavily criticized by opposition parties in Guyana as a curtailment of freedom and drew rebuke from Great Britain, the country’s former colonial power.

The European bloc, in a statement from its office in Guyana, said that the latest payments on two ongoing aid programs, providing 28.9 million euros for the sugar sector and 14.8 million for sea defenses, were being frozen.

“The latest partial payments related to these two programs have been temporarily put on hold until all eligibility criteria, inter alia budget oversight, are satisfactorily addressed,” said the statement.

Neither Guyana’s finance ministry nor foreign ministry responded to calls seeking comment.

Guyana this month described Britain’s envoy as a “pariah” after he suggested London could withdraw development aid in response to the parliamentary suspension.

Ramotar on Tuesday called a parliamentary election for May 11, more than a year before a vote originally scheduled for 2016 in the South American nation of 740,000 people.

Politics in Guyana have long been determined by race, with Ramotar’s ruling People’s Progressive Party, in power since 1992, dominated by descendants of Indian immigrants.

The main opposition party, A Partnership for National Unity, has greater support among the Afro-Guyanese population, though a third party, the Alliance for Change, is seeking to cut across the racial lines.

Writing by Brian Ellsworth Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and James Dalgleish

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